Supporting NAFTA Was the Kiss of Death for Democrats — Why Dems Should Think Twice About Voting for TPP, by @Gaius_Publius

Supporting NAFTA Was the Kiss of Death for Democrats — Why Dems Should Think Twice About Voting for TPP

by Gaius Publius

Ross Perot describes the "giant sucking sound going south." Notice how right he is about all the other evils he describes — how public officials "cash out," for example, or the simple logic of dumping your domestic work force if all you care about is "making money." Notice also that the questioner is a pro–trade agreement shill.

I'm not sure how the coming vote on Fast Track and TPP in the House will go (my latest update is here, but times are fast a-changing.). I'm hearing about the possibility of money changing hands on the Republican side (Bob Ney speculated about that in an on-air conversation with Thom Hartmann, and the sums he mentioned were huge). And I'm hearing about extraordinary pressure being put on Democrats by party leaders. So we'll see.

Two things I do know. First, if Democrats push Fast Track and TPP over the finish line, it could be a bloodbath at election time. (That's a warning for Republicans as well.) And second, if Democrats push Fast Track and TPP over the finish line, it should be a bloodbath at election time.

I will say, speaking for myself only, that every Democrat who votes for Fast Track needs to be made a lobbyist at the first opportunity. Some deeds are so bad, will do such damage, that they should never be rewarded with a return to elected office. If Fast Track passes, then TPP will almost certainly pass, the Trans-Atlantic version, TTIP (or as some call it, TAFTA) will pass, and TISA, the horrible "service sector" agreement will also pass.

These agreements will not only remake the world economy, as NAFTA did, but on a much larger scale — they will also neuter the sovereignty of every nation that signs them. Which of your elected representatives would you like to reward after saying yes to that? How about ... none of them?

Starting with Ron Wyden, who greased the skids in the Senate, and people like House member Jim Costa (click to help tell him how you feel about his TPP support).

Supporting NAFTA Was the Kiss of Death for Democrats

Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies has taken a look at the NAFTA vote, one very similar to the current Fast Track and TPP vote, in that Democrats were heavily lobbied by their leaders to say yes, despite widespread understanding that NAFTA would be a job-killer. Remember, the NAFTA vote came not long after a presidential campaign in which Ross Perot talked about that "giant sucking sound going south," the sound of jobs moving to Mexico. (Feel free to remind yourself about that moment by watching the short video at the top.)

Sarah Anderson, writing on the consequences to Democrats of their NAFTA votes, opens with a bit of context and a question:
Supporting NAFTA Was the Kiss of Death for Democrats --Why Dems Should Think Twice About Voting for TPP

As President Obama twists arms to pass “fast track,” a look back at the Democrats who helped Clinton win the bloody trade battle of 1993.

It’s serious flashback time for those involved in the 1993 debate over the North America Free Trade Agreement. With the “fast track” trade vote expected as early as this Thursday, a Democratic president is once again twisting arms and dangling rewards in a desperate effort to muster votes for a corporate-driven trade deal. And just like in 1993, the vote will be one of those rare bipartisan moments in Washington. The word is only about a dozen members remain on the fence, most of them Democrats. The president is reportedly putting the tightest screws on members of the Congressional Black Caucus. After the NAFTA wheeling and dealing began in earnest back in 1993, it didn’t take long to push enough Dems off the fence. All these years later, NAFTA remains the basic blueprint for every U.S. trade deal.

Let me skip over NAFTA’s failure to deliver on promises for workers, the environment, human rights, etc. These have all been extensively documented over the years by the Institute for Policy Studies, and many others across the continent. President Obama acknowledged its flaws himself when he made a campaign trail promise to renegotiate the deal. Instead, let’s take a look at what individual members got by helping to ram the pact through Congress. Did their support for the big business lobby’s dream deal ensure a glittering political career?
She then discusses House Speaker Tom Foley:
Starting at the top: Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley sided with the White House and against most of the House Democrats, including Majority Leader Richard Gephardt. In his 30-year political career, that controversial move stood out enough for the New York Times to mention it in Foley’s obituary. A year after the NAFTA vote, the obit noted, “Mr. Foley became the first speaker since the Civil War to be defeated for re-election in his own district.”

Ouch. While Foley’s defeat can’t be attributed to a single factor, his decision to side with the corporate lobby on NAFTA certainly didn’t prevent his electoral humiliation either.
What about all the Clinton White House promises of special safeguards that would shield members from disastrous consequences for their constituents?
In a detailed 2001 report following up on the NAFTA deals, Public Citizen concluded that “systematically, the White House promises of special safeguards for U.S. farm commodities, bridges and more remained unfulfilled. Exceptions were several meaningless promises, such as photographs with the president, and one campaign fund-raising event.”
"Photographs with the president." Sounds like those rides on Air Force One that Obama is offering, as he flies to Germany to meet with the G7:
Inside US Trade: Four House Dems Supporting TPA To Accompany Obama On G7 Trip

Four House Democrats who have publicly announced or signaled their support for a pending Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill will travel with President Obama on Air Force One to attend the G7 summit taking place June 7-8 in Germany, according to a White House official. ...

They are Reps. Jim Himes (D-CT), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Mike Quigley (D-IL), the official said.
Apparently Himes was included as a reward for a very recent switch:
Of that group, Himes was the most recent member to announce his support for the TPA bill, having done so on June 3.
I hope those plane rides are worth those House seats; some TPP Democrats will lose theirs — just as many NAFTA Democrats lost back in that day. Anderson again:
One of these unfulfilled promises targeted textile and apparel state members. ...

Rep. Clete Donald Johnson, Jr. was one of the targets of that empty promise. After voting for NAFTA, the Georgia Democrat got demolished in 1994, losing by a margin of more than 30 percent. A few years later, Clinton offered Johnson a consolation prize: a post as chief U.S. trade negotiator for textiles, a sector in rapid decline due to low-wage foreign competition.
Anderson mentions others, such as Rep. Bill Sarpalius of Texas, Rep. David Price of North Carolina, and Rep. Lewis Payne Jr of Virginia. These men and more believed the President's empty promises of protection, voted with the money that wanted NAFTA to pass, and then were cast out of office.

Consider also the list of trade-deal betrayals compiled by Public Citizen, Broken Promises, Lost Elections (pdf):
“Members of Congress should know better than to trust an exiting president’s promises of political cover or to rely on vote-yes-now-goodies-later deals for voting ‘yes’ on such a controversial, career-defining issue as Fast Track,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “Our research of scores of deals over the past 20 years shows no matter who the president or congressional leadership is, almost all of the promises made in the heat of a trade vote go unfulfilled, and representatives who vote ‘yes’ are repeatedly left in political peril.”
If you remember the broken promises of the 2008 campaign, you know how cheap a president's words are. Office-holders, trust the president to "have our back" at your peril.

Who Will Be Cast Out of Office This Time?

Non-Beltway and non-lobbyist people — i.e., voters — are putting pressure on the members of both parties not to pass the Fast Track bill. And members are feeling the heat. The popular resistance is so great that the AFL-CIO. for example, appears to have stopped all political contributions to office-holders and candidates until after the Fast Track vote, something that some money-fueled Democrats are complaining about.

Roll Call:
Democrats Frustrated by Unions’ Cash Freeze Over ‘Fast Track’

One of Democrats’ best team players on the campaign finance front is playing hardball this cycle, withholding campaign cash over a package of trade bills being debated in Congress.

The AFL-CIO, along with some public sector unions, announced a campaign finance freeze in March. Unions hoped the threat of withholding contributions would scare Democratic lawmakers out of supporting President Barack Obama’s Trade Promotion Authority, or “fast track,” to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade agreement labor groups say would hurt manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

But instead, the freeze is frustrating and alienating plenty of House Democrats, many of whom say they are being punished even though they have been critical of the issue.
You can read further if you like, but the rest of the article seems like a "placed piece" attempting to shame unions into opening up their purses. I'd read it only of you want to see what "placed pieces" sound like.

Who will be cast out of office this time? If I'm a member of Congress and considering a Yes vote, I'd have to wonder if the answer is ... me.

And if I'm a voter in a district with a Yes or Undecided member of Congress, I'd want to make sure I tell that member ... it will be you if I can help it. House phone numbers here. Feel free to speak bluntly. It's a blunt bill.

And we could use a few more of these as well:

How would you like to see three or four of these billboards up along the 99 between Fresno and Merced? Contribute here to help make that happen. But please do it soon, before the House votes.

Otherwise, we'll have to put them up as punishment.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)